Beer sales in the UK for both on and off trade for Q2 of 2019 were down 2.2% on the same period in 2018, according to the latest data from the British Beer & Pub Association.
The slump was driven by falling beer sales in pubs and bars, which decreased by 2.8% on the same period in 2018.
Sales of beer in supermarkets and off-licence shops, also fell, but significantly less, decreasing by 1.7% on the same quarter in 2018.
The BBPA has highlighted that the decline was against a particularly strong Q2 2018, where sales were boosted by a long period of good weather and the group stages of the World Cup. Beer sales in the on-trade, however, remain under considerable pressure generally with pub numbers continuing to decline as a result of high taxes including beer duty.
The BBPA has been clear that measures need to be taken by the Chancellor to at the very least cut, or if not, freeze, beer duty in the Budget. Without doubt this will help many community pubs to survive, it says.
At the moment, public finances include an inflation linked increase in beer duty. The BBPA is therefore continuing to support the “Long Live The Local” campaign – from Britain’s Beer Alliance – which is calling for a cut in beer duty to decrease the significant cost pressures pubs face and help give them a boost. The trade association also supports action on business rates, which it claims are overdue for reform.
Speaking on the Q2 Beer Barometer, Brigid Simmonds OBE, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Britain’s beer industry is a world-class manufacturing sector. Together, brewing and pubs support 900,000 jobs in towns and villages across the UK. As the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink, it is important that the Chancellor supports beer and the pubs that serve it in their local communities.
“We know that cuts and freezes to beer duty make a big difference in helping pubs and boosting beer sales. There is a very real threat, however, that the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, will increase beer duty at the next Budget. After two back-to-back beer duty freezes in 2017 and 2018, an increase would be a big step back. What we really need is a beer duty cut to give pubs a big boost.”
The call to government may be too simplistic however as market researchers report on trends that will continue to reduce volume of beer sales but could increase overall revenue and profits. One such report is – Low or no alcohol market continues to grow alongside premiumisation.
Pub groups and others are also reporting the consumers appetite for no alcohol and low alcohol beer. Here’s one such example from Robinsons Brewery across both its managed and tenanted pub portfolio – No alcohol and low alcohol beer seeing double and treble digit growth.
Watching consumer trends and patterns and adapting propositions accordingly will have far greater positive impact for publicans than waiting for government to knock a few pence off the price of a pint.